Participants in the 25th annual Easter egg hunt at Firemen’s Park on Good Friday came through in a big way for Project SHARE, meaning some Niagara Falls families that are struggling to make ends meet won’t have to go hungry.
At the event, which drew thousands of children who scooped up 600 pounds of chocolate eggs, people were encouraged to make a cash donation or donate non-perishable food for SHARE’s emergency food bank.
At the park on Mountain Road on April 19, Project SHARE executive director Pam Sharp and fundraising and events co-ordinator Briley Deiter were on hand to accept $6,000 raised during the hunt, which was organized by the Stamford Center Volunteer Firemen’s Association (SCVFA). Participants also donated 1,750 pounds of food to the food bank, up 600 pounds from last year.
“The attendance was overwhelming; the donations were fantastic,” said Kevin Fehr, president of the SCVFA.
Deiter, who was at the event, said participants were “super generous” with donations.
“It was absolutely incredible,” she said. “People were willing to make a donation knowing it was going towards a good cause.”
Sharp said the donations come at a time when the multi-service agency that also runs programs such as supplying back-to-school backpacks and running shoes to families, community garden plots and programs to prevent homelessness, is seeing demand at its emergency food bank hit record levels.
“We keep thinking we’re at an all-time high and we’re not going to increase any more, but then we have more new families coming through the door,” he said.
“We wish we weren’t needed,” said Sharp. “We know that food banks are not the answer to solving problems, but in the meantime, a lot of our neighbors are struggling, so it’s through events like this that we’re able to get the resources we need to make sure that no one is going hungry in our community.”
The SCVFA faced some backlash on social media for the hunt, after social media chatter around a mom’s post complaining about what she said were chaotic conditions when crowds of kids tried to exit cordoned off hunting areas.
Fehr said his association has taken the criticism very seriously and is already working on plans to ensure next year’s hunt is more organized. One step could require families to register ahead of time, he suggested.
He said, “2023 is going to prepare us for 2024 … We still want to create the experience and provide it for the community, but at the same time we want to make everyone happy.”
Fehr said his association would welcome volunteers willing to step up and help out at next year’s hunt.